By SAM ADAMS
If you’re a stat geek like me, then I hope you’ll appreciate these numbers. The Denver Broncos, after beating the Cincinnati Bengals 29-17 last Sunday, became the 16th Super Bowl champion to start its next season at 3-0. Make it 17 undefeated defending champions after three games if you include the 1967 Green Bay Packers, who opened the ’68 season at 2-0-1.
The 1977 Raiders, ’79 Steelers, ’84 Raiders, ’86 Bears, ’89, ’90 and ’95 49ers, ’98 Broncos, ’00 Rams, ’02, ’04 and ’15 Patriots, ’07 Colts, ’08 Giants and ’11 Packers began defense of their Super Bowl championships with 3-0 records.
So, what about 4-0? Ok. 12 defending Super Bowl champions went to 4-0 — the ’77 and ’84 Raiders, ’79 Steelers, ’86 Bears, ’90 49ers, ’98 Broncos, ’00 Rams, ’04 and ’15 Patriots, ’07 Colts, ’08 Giants and ’11 Packers.
And if you’re really into long-range forecasts, know that only four defending Super Bowl champions have gone on to repeat as champions AFTER a 3-0 start. Those teams are the ’79 Steelers, ’89 49ers, ’98 Broncos and the NFL’s most recent repeat champion, the ’04 Patriots.
STRAIGHT FROM THE BARTENDER’S SHOT GLASS: Dee Gordon’s leadoff home run for the Florida Marlins on Monday following the solemn pre-game tributes for his late teammate, Jose Fernandez, brought tears to his eyes, my eyes and the eyes of millions of people — baseball fans and non-sports fans alike. Prior to the homer, hit off New York Mets starter Bartolo Colon, Gordon had hit only eight homers for his career. Marlins manager Don Mattingly witnessed Gordon’s heaven-sent blast on Monday. Mattingly also was Gordon’s manager with the Los Angeles Dodgers when he hit his first major-league homer on May 1, 2012 at Coors Field against the Colorado Rockies. Gordon’s father Tom, had only two at-bats during a 21-year career in the majors … At some point during the 2016-17 season Cleveland Cavaliers starLeBron James should become the 10th player in NBA/ABA history to reach the 28,000-point plateau. He’ll also pass Boston Celtics legend Bob Cousy for 16th on the all-time assists list. Cousy has 6,955. James has 6,815 … Someone asked why I don’t include more college football notes. Simple. I don’t watch much. I only know Alabama and Ohio State are really good,Jim Harbaugh is a weirdo with a good team at Michigan, Louisville QB Lamar Jackson is ridiculously talented and putting himself in danger with every carry — and that there’s going to be some kind of controversy when the College Football Playoff rankings kick in … The Tampa Bay Buccaneers haven’t won a postseason game since beating the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII. In fact, the Bucs haven’t been to the playoffs since 2007, when Jon Gruden was the head coach … Doesn’t feel like many people are giving my Cleveland Indians much of a chance to get to the World Series, let alone win it. What’s it been, 68 years since their last championship? Somebody pass me the dip for that pile of chips on my shoulder … There are nine active Heisman Trophy winners in the NFL — Derrick Henry, Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston, Robert Griffin III, Cam Newton, Mark Ingram, Sam Bradford, Reggie Bush and Carson Palmer. Bradford, with the Minnesota Vikings, is the only one of those nine who plays on a team that isn’t under .500 after the first three games … Winston was the first player selected overall in the 2015 NFL draft. Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian was the 250th selection — and last of the seven QBs taken in that draft … The Buccaneers’ defense has recorded five sacks in three games — same total as the NFL’s sack leader, Denver’s Von Miller … I’m taking Seattle over the N.Y. Jets, even though QB Russell Wilson is hobbled and the Seahawks have lost 15 of their past 18 road games played against AFC opponents. My other Funky NFL Picks this week are: Denver, Chicago, Arizona, Oakland, Tennessee, Washington, Jacksonville (playing a long ways from home might do the Jaguars some good), Buffalo (I do wonder if Rex Ryan will blame and fire the defensive coordinator if the Bills’ D gets burned by a couple of backup QBs), Carolina, San Diego, Dallas, Pittsburgh, Minnesota and Miami to upset Cincinnati … The Kansas City Chiefs have more interceptions (8) than sacks (3). The defenses for the New York Giants and New Orleans Saints have yet to get an interception. And then there’s the Steelers, who have only one quarterback sack in three games … On Oct. 29 the Denver Nuggets will retire Dikembe Mutombo’s jersey. No. 55. They should activate it instead. At age 50, Mutombo immediately becomes their best defensive player.
CHASER: Watching the Browns and Saints, and wondering if there might be two NFL teams that finish this season winless.
(Sam Adams has been an outstanding professional journalist, author and touring comedian for 25 years. He will contribute a regular column to woodypaige.com. “In 1991, when I worked full-time as an insurance office clerk and part-time as a stringer for The Denver Post, Woody Paige gave me two pieces of advice. One, he said ‘I like what you’re doing kid, but don’t quit your day job.’ Two, he wrote on a piece of paper ‘Define the goal. Decide what’s important.’ I quit my day job shortly thereafter, unbeknownst to Woody. A year later he hired me at The Post. In 2016 my resume includes jobs covering sports for The Post, the Rocky Mountain News and the Charlotte Observer. I don’t have a day job any more. Currently I’m a professional stand-up comedian who wishes he had played in the NFL. Surely I’d have a national TV gig by now.” samadamscomedy.com)